International Writers Magazine: Canada Travel
QUEBECS Vacation Paradise
three days we had gloried in Quebec Citys Summer Festival
with its universal renowned musicians, street entertainment and
fine food, all engulfed in an aura of exhilaration and joy. On
the last evening of our stay we capped our visit by listening
to Jon Anderson entertain his thousands of fans. However, as I
listened to the clap of thousands of people, my mind was some
distance away deep in thought about Charlevoix with its parks,
whale watching and other attractions.
The next day I was
excited as I stepped from our bus on the edge of a millions of years
old crater in the Charlevoix region of Quebec. I felt fulfillment now
that I had achieved one of my travel goals. I had read much about the
regions majestic mountain vistas and seascapes and I was thrilled
that today I would be exploring the regions splendour.
Located just 120 km (72 mi) east of Quebec City, Charlevoix, 6,000 sq
km (2317 sq mi) in area, derives its name from Father François
Xavier de Charlevoix a Jesuit priest who was the first historian
of New France. It encompasses charming villages with white clapboard
homes, red roofs and green shuttered farmhouses nestled against slopes
that run to the shores of the edging St. Lawrence River. The oldest
resort area in North America, it is home to inviting fiords, islands,
lakes, parks and wilderness.
Designated a world biosphere by UNESCO in 1989, it owes its breathtaking
landscape to a crater formed some 350 million years ago when a 15 billion
ton meteorite smashed into the earth. The 56 km (35 mi) wide crater
whose outline can be seen clearly from outer space is one of the few
inhabited on earth. It forms today the heart of the Charlevoix region
a rich farming and tourist area with charming villages and brooding
mountains that some 30,000 inhabitants call home.
Charlevoix is the only one of the worlds biospheres that contains
numerous towns, villages and rustic farms as well as many tourist establishments
such as art galleries, museums, quaint inns and restaurants. However,
these seem to fit neatly into the background ambience, enhancing the
Even though noted for its undulating countryside, the main drawing cards
of the region are its parks. The Parc National des Hautes is one of
Québec's most beautiful natural monuments. Picturesque natural
surroundings, and gorges with steep granite cliffs that soar above the
RiviPre Malbaie, rival the Grand Canyon is their splendour.
Parc National des Grands-Jardins offer visitors taiga and tundra
where at the heart of a black spruce forest one walks on a thick layer
of lichen. The Arctic vegetation sustains herds of caribou and moose.
For tourists, it is an easily accessible northern world that entices
cross-country skiing enthusiasts in winter and kayaking and white-water
rafting in summer.
tourists, the SaguenaySt. Lawrence Marine Park is the most
well known of the Charlevoix parks. Here, the salt waters of the
St. Lawrence Estuary, the worlds largest estuary, mingle with
the sweet waters of the longest fjord in Eastern Canada, producing
exceptional oceanographic phenomena, that fosters biological diversity.
From May to October visitors take a cruise to view in one of the
few places in the world where a wide variety of large sea mammals
(13 species in all) come to feed. They are attracted by the river's
wealth of shellfish on which they feast. For me, a pod of beluga
whales sailing not far from our boat was a sight of wonder and delight.
Le Massif Region,
located about one hour from Québec City, for winter lovers, is
an unbeatable ski destination with abundant annual snowfall - some 600
cm (20 ft). It has the highest vertical drop east of the Canadian Rockies
(770 m / 2,526 ft.). The Massif offers a beautiful setting above the
banks of the St. Lawrence River and fantastic views greet skiers on
their way down the mountains 36 runs.
As well from some of the 43 panoramic trails there is a clear view of
passenger liners that ply the St. Lawrence River. Easily accessible
from a road to the top, skiers can first stop to enjoy a fantastic view
of the St. Lawrence and the eye-catching countryside before beginning
When it comes to the fine arts, it is no exaggeration to say that Charlevoix
is an artists paradise. Well before this area in Quebec lured
tourists it attracted a great number of painters. Members of the Group
of Seven and other famous artists came to paint the spectacular
landscape with its wild backcountry and charming villages. Today, the
region is dotted with art galleried and home studios adding charm and
beauty to Charlevoixs reputation.
One painter who now calls Charlevoix home is Juan Cristobal a
Chilean who fled to Canada after the overthrow of Allende by a CIA organized
coup. His wife, two brothers and mother, also painters in their own
rights, have enriched the region with their works. In their three studios,
they have given the Quebec art scene a boast Chiles loss
has been Charlevoixs gain.
No less important to the regions appeal are the locally produced
cheeses found in all food outlets. Some like Le Migneron, a soft cheese,
have won national and international awards. Travellers stopping at the
local cheese-producing establishments are offered tours and, at times,
cheese sampling plates.
The various cheeses offered by the locals are the crowning jewels to
the wide range of local products in their homes, restaurants or cheese-producing
outlets. Some 800,000 annual visitors travel to sample these local products,
glory in the regions summer and winter sports, sail to view the whales,
visit the art galleries, and indulge in a simple but gourmet cuisine
in Restaurants on the Flavour Trail where local farmers products
are transformed into savoury dishes. No doubt, after enjoying some of
these activities then staying in one of the regions romantic auberges,
most will return home satisfied with their vacation. It has always been
so in this oldest resort area in Canada.
The saying that staying in one of Charlevoixs quaint inns
hid amid the beauty of nature is like drinking all evening without a
morning hangover has much merit.
Do Not Miss:
Maison du Bootlegger, located at La Malbaie (Sainte-AgnPs) and built
in 1860, it gives one a peek into the underworld of clandestine activities
during the Prohibition. It is now a tourist restaurant featuring fine
food, entertainment, guided tours discovering a maze of fake walls and
hidden corridors and bars. See website: www.maisondubootlegger.com
Two Good Places to Stay and Dine in Charlevoix:
Auberge des Falaises, 250, chemin des Falaises, La Malbaie, Charlevoix
(Québec) G5A 2V2. Tel: (418) 665-3731. Fax: (418) 665-6194. Toll
free: 1-800-386-3731. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.aubergedesfalaises.com/
Rates of rooms vary according to season and there are numerous package
deals offered. Also, there are 2 magnificent golf courses: the Manoir
Richelieu with its scenic view, is known to be among the tenth best
golf courses in Canada and Murray Bay, which is the second oldest golf
course in Canada. Both are located within 2 miles of the Auberge. Rates
range from $38 to $68/person including a cart.
Auberge des Peupliers, Renowned for its welcoming atmosphere and highly
acclaimed cuisine, the Auberge des Peupliers graces a heritage village
perched on a cape that offers a splendid overview of the St. Lawrence
River and the surrounding mountains. 381, Saint-Raphaël (Secteur
Cap-B-l'Aigle), Cap-B-l'aigle (Québec, Canada), G5A 2N8. Tel:
(418) 665-4423, Toll free: 1-888-282-3743. Fax: (418) 665-3179. E-mail:
www.aubergedespeupliers.com Rates of rooms vary according season
and there are numerous package deals offered.
For further Information re: these Inns and others in Charlevoix,
check this website: http://www.hotelleriechampetre.com/auberge-hotel-quebec/index.cfm
For Further Information. Contact:
Tourisme Québec: for complete tourist information Québec,
call: (514) 873-2015 or toll free: 1-877-363-7777, or visit web the
site: www.bonjourquebec.com or http://www.bonjourquebec.com/ca-en/charlevoix0.html
Habeeb is a freelance writer, author and member of Travel Media Association
of Canada (TMAC) residing in Toronto. E-mail: email@example.com
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